The mission of Kalamazoo County Ready 4s is to advance fully accessible, high-quality pre-kindergarten education for every 3- and 4-year-old in Kalamazoo County through collaborative leadership with public and private partners.
At an October 2008 Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy and Action in the Community (ISAAC) public meeting, 800 participants witnessed local officials pledge to work together to develop a system to provide access for all 4-year-old children to high-quality, affordable pre-kindergarten. During the following two years, key community leaders representing various sectors worked together in designing a collaborative system that would eventually be referred to as Kalamazoo County Ready 4s. In January 2011, the KC Ready 4s’ board was established, and in the spring, the Learning Network of Kalamazoo provided a gift of $1 million to fund a two-year pilot program.
KC Ready 4s has experienced tremendous growth in the past nine years. In Year 1, we worked with 5 private providers serving 65 children. In Year 8, we worked with 55 providers serving 1,105 4-year-olds and piloted a program for serving 3-year-olds. This year, we are working with 55 providers serving 1,179 4-year-olds and 228 3-year-olds. Noteworthy activities during the past year include: extending programming to serve 3-year-olds and thus, supporting more classrooms; intentional focus on becoming a more culturally agile organization; strengthening connections with community partners who can provide services and resources to address the myriad of needs the families we serve face; and expanding enrichment opportunities for children by utilizing community partners.